A Black soldier has been identified as one of the three Americans who died from a terror attack on American forces in Africa on Sunday. Henry “Mitch” Mayfield Jr. was killed Sunday after the al-Shabab militant group ambushed an airstrip in Kenya, NBC Chicago confirmed after speaking with his family on Monday.
“This was a senseless act of violence that has changed our lives forever. Our son was a great big brother, cousin and above all he was an awesome person,” Mayfield’s aunt, Tawanna Cottenfinner, said. “We will miss him tremendously. He brought joy to everyone he came in contact with. We will miss that joy. At this time we are asking for time to grieve in privacy.”
The suburban Chicago native was just 23-years-old.
Mayfield’s mother said that her final words to her son came on New Year’s Day on a FaceTime call when he told her that everything would be fine and that his base was safe.
“He told me everything would be okay,” Carmoneta Mayfield said. “Those were his last words to me.”
Mayfield’s Facebook page was filled with comments offering condolences.
The deadly predawn attack that also killed two contractors and injured others at Manda Bay Airfield near the border with Somalia came days after President Donald Trump authorized the assassination of an Iranian military general in Baghdad.
It was unclear if the two events were linked but the assassination instantly sparked concerns of World War III breaking out in the larger context of Americans fighting foreign wars, something the president vowed to end.
Mayfield’s death underscored the threat that American soldiers face overseas.
Another soldier vented his frustrations in an Instagram post asking folks to exercise a little dualism while exchanging playful social media banter about such a serious situation for soldiers in war zones.